Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tenor Recorder

early 17th century (?)
Germany or Italy
German or Italian
Length: 56.5 cm (22-1/4 in.)
Aerophone-Whistle Flute-recorder
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
"Recorder" is an English term for a duct flute, which is also called flauto dolce, flûte à bec, or Blockflöte. Its fipple mouthpiece makes it a relative of pipes and whistles; however, recorders have a hole for the thumb and holes for four fingers of the lower hand. Recorders come in different sizes, with their name indicating the relative range, for example, soprano, alto, tenor, bass; however, the recorder plays an octave above the corresponding vocal range.

By the mid-1600s, recorders were typically made from a single piece of wood. The bore is largely cylindrical and the timber is determined by lower harmonics. Renaissance recorders were played in consorts, and the large bore provided a mellow sound that blended well with other recorders, voices, or stringed instruments.

The two holes at the bottom of the recorder enable the musician to play it either right- or left-handed. The hole not being used could be plugged with wax (see illustration and closeup of bottom part of instrument).
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
A Checklist of European & American Flageolets, Recorders, & Tabor Pipes. 2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 15.

A Checklist of Western European Flageolets, Recorders, and Tabor Pipes. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1976, pg. 7, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 277.

Related Objects

Alto Recorder in F

Artist: Johann Benedikt Gahn (German, Nuremberg 1674–1711 Nuremberg) Date: ca. 1700 Medium: Ivory Accession: 89.4.909 On view in:Not on view

Soprano Recorder in B

Artist: Thomas Coenraet Boekhout (Kampen 1666–1715 Amsterdam) Date: ca. 1700 Medium: Ebony, ivory Accession: 89.4.912 On view in:Not on view

Tenor Recorder in C-sharp

Artist: Hieronimus Franciscus Kynseker (German, Nuremberg 1636–1686 Nuremberg) Date: 19th century Medium: Plumwood Accession: 89.4.2644 On view in:Not on view


Artist: Date: 19th century
Accession Number: 89.4.2243
Date: 19th century Medium: Wood, pigment Accession: 89.4.2243 On view in:Not on view

Tenor Recorder in C

Artist: Date: 18th century (?)
Accession Number: 89.4.907
Date: 18th century (?) Medium: Wood, ivory, brass Accession: 89.4.907 On view in:Not on view